Coping With Flea and Tick Season — and Other Pet Health Issues

The dog days of summer are also flea and tick season. Here's a little advice from us to help you get your pets through it.

| August/September 1991

  • 127-flea-and-ticks-02-flea-eggs.jpg
    Tiny flea eggs can hide anywhere.
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    Flea and tick season isn't merely academic. Fleas can jump off your cat or dog onto anything—including your children or you.
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    A tick dining al fresco on fido.
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    Maggie, of Green County, NY, doing the right thing—the window is open, but her head is in the cab.
  • 127-flea-and-tick-03-emily-miller.jpg
    Emily Miller, a longtime animal care specialist at Pet Patrol in New York State, has spent most of her life in very rural Vermont with several cats and two St. Bernards. She is currently the mother of a marmalade tabby Sam, and is in search of the perfect Australian Shepherd.

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  • 127-flea-and-tick-01-dog-in-car.jpg
  • 127-flea-and-tick-03-emily-miller.jpg

The dogs days of summer are upon us. In Vermont, we are getting ready for the Champlain Valley Fair, zucchinis are the size of baseball bats, prize sheep and pigs are getting their annual (though unwanted) bath, and nights are a bit cooler. But for all the outward placidity of these last summer days, it's a battleground in the jungle of your pet's fur. In most areas of the country, late summer is the height of the flea and tick season.

It's important to remember that as your animal begins to spend more time inside, so do their unwanted friends. And as the fall draws nearer, the fleas and ticks on Duke's or Cleo's back are going to bug you; they'll want to nest in your sofa, your bed, or your children's beds. They will make a home everywhere that your pet does after a long day of ball-chasing or mousing.

Unfortunately, really successful parasite prevention starts around tax day, but it's never too late to take Fido in hand and get a grip on what could be a late-summer infestation. But before you start, sit back for a minute or two, listen to the crickets, drink a glass of lemonade, and feel a few rays of the sun filter through the maple trees to your feet. After all, summer just never lasts long enough.

Q: I'm very cautious about exposing my children to Lyme disease, but my dog just bounds into danger areas. What can I do? 

A: You're right to worry about keeping your children from bounding into danger areas. Deer ticks don't care who plays host to them and will hop onto a child just as readily as a dog.

As far as curtailing a possible infestation of your dog, there are definitely things you can do. Keeping pets and persons away from those "danger areas" (including deep woods; marshy, reedy areas; and very grassy fields) is a good start. Given that it is impossible to restrain the animal's activities, it's important to know how you can have the upper hand in tick control:

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